Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Rear window in my 92 Buick roadmaster

Dear Car Talk,

In yesterday’s Daily Press, Newport News, Viriginia, Shirley’s letter to Car Talk could have been written by me. Like Shirley, I too am an active soon to be 80 senior, and over the last few years I too have been keeping my eyes open for a new station wagon to replace my 1992 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon. I drove my beloved “truckster” off the show room floor in October 1992, and today with probably close to 300,000 thousand miles, it continues to be my main transportation.

Like Shirley, I too kayak but also I bike, hike, and swim while, usually daily, also driving to local city or state parks for long walks with my German Shepherd and a smaller mixed terrier.

My Estate Wagon has spoiled me with a couple of features not found today on wagons, but one that is missing, sadly, is a deal breaker for me, and the one reason why I did not drive the new VW Alltrack away from the dealer a couple of months ago.

With one exception, the BMW sports wagon, does have a rear window that opens independently from its rear door.

Unfortuntely, while I know I will never find a station wagon today with the space behind the front seats as large as my estate wagon, the BMW sports wagon is tiny, tiny back there……plus, it’s cost for this senior senior is way too high at this stage in my life. The VW Alltrack had about a foot or more space in the back when the seats are folded down, and it’s price is more reasonable……but I was stopped from purchasing it without the independently opening rear window.

Here are some of the reasons why I found independently opening rear windows are so valuable for active owners of station wagons (like Shirley, I am not interested in a SUV.)

When you have your kayak or bike already loaded on your car and suddenly remember you need an article of clothing or a piece of equipment out of your car, that independently opening rear window is a life saver, particularly when you keep extra clothing, ropes, etc., inside your car up against the back gate, like I do.

You do not need to untie or remove the equipment already loaded on your car, you only need to open that back window and reach in for the extra ropes, or whatever. Try opening the entire back gate to reach in the car for something you need without having to untie and/or remove equipment already loaded on the roof or on the car’s rear bumper……it isn’t possible without first undoing all or most of what you did to anchor your equipment to the car…

And, that independently opening rear window is a must when you have dogs or pets or even a baby or children strapped in their car seats. If someone stops to talk to you, you only need to open that rear window to give the dogs water or both dogs/children etc air while your conversation continues longer than you anticipated. Heaven forbid trying to open the entire rear gate if you realize you need to let in some air or give the pets some water…………not only would many dogs then “escape” but anything you have inside up against the back rear gate would be pushed out on the ground as the dogs pushed to get outside and free. Actually, a realtor friend also pointed out when it’s windy and she opens her entire back gate (she keeps her work-related folders and papers in the back of her wagon) they are blowing out of the car and around before she knows it. She said she would prefer a wagon with an independently opening rear window.

My question is are you aware of any station wagons in the near future that are going to be manufactured with an independently opening rear window?

If so, please share that information with your followers.

Thank you. Sandra

So here’s my question . . .

If you love your Buick roadmaster wagon, and it’s served you well all these years, why not just keep it going?

Unless it’s literally rusting away, you’ve got a lot of options, as far as keeping it up

If the engine is tired, get it rebuilt or drop in crate motor. I think this vehicle uses a very common Chevy small block

I see plenty of parts still available for this vehicle, at least on the internet

We all pine for models and features that used to be available but are no more. Many reasons for it but outside of buying several for spares, you just have to take what the market provides. I go to the auto show every year and usually am unimpressed with what is available but you tend t get used to it and work around it.

The station wagon era is gone . The ones that will still be made will have zero resemblance to the barges of the past. I doubt if there will be any rear windows that roll down because crash requirements and liability for people driving with them down . That would pull exhaust fumes into vehicle.

As for your realtor friend they should be able to find something to put the folders in.

If you want something similar to the Buick, look at large SUVs. A Chevrolet Tahoe might be about the same size. It sits higher than the Roadmaster, but should have similar interior space. The gas mileage will be about the same.

Thanks to all your replies. Down deep I believe i will have,to hold on to my '92 buick roadmaster wagon considering not having that independently opening rear window in any new reasonably priced wagon is a deal breaker for me. Figure i always can purchase a used BMW sports wagon with that feature …altho i will not do that unless absolutely nec.

Actually, a Roadmaster gets much better gas mileage than a Tahoe,
at least on the highway.

Why no SUVs? A Toyota Highlander has that opening hatch, I’m pretty sure, and I think your mpgs will improve. It’s also much smaller, while still quite roomy.

Oh, meant to add an SUV or truck with an opening rear window is too high for my purposes, i.e. at 5’2" even if i got the window open, i would have to climb up on its bumber to see what is inside next to back gate. And, i would have to carry a three step ladder around the vehicle to fasten kayak etc tiedowns…and for me to try and put a kayak on something taller than a station wagon is next to imposible without assistance… living alone i’ve become fearlessly independent and want to remain that way as long as ppssible. I feel auto manufacturers shoild take a lot more things into consideration, perhaps even conducting surveys themselves asking long time SUV, wagon, sedan owners, etc, what they like or don’t like about their vehicles before copying every other manufacturer
Year in and year out. It shouldn’t be hard to get a list of list of who has owned what for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years…and ask what features they would like to have remain in their next auto purchase.

1 Like

OK. It sounds like you’re out of luck. There are almost no ‘wagons’ being made now. Makers are much more interested in folks who buy every 3-5 years, that’s where the volume is. But you might want to take a look at the Highlander, it may not be too tall for you. Or a Honda Fit? No opening hatch window, but very versatile on the inside.

Do you need the interior volume of your Buick?

For the amount of money it would take to buy a used BMW that could cost a lot of money in repairs you could really do a lot to your wagon that seems to meet your needs.

1 Like

My Buick wagon’s rear window lifts up. All it takes is one look in the rear mirror to see the window needs to be shut.
I understand if a rear window rolls down and can’t be seen by the driver how easy it would be for exhaust fumes to be be pulled into the vehicle…all of those details should be known and/or discussed by the manufacturer before rolling the car’s design off the designer’s table.,

1 Like

Totally agree, and that is what I will continue to do unless my Buick just cannot be repaired … when that time comes, hopefully a reasonably priced wagon with a rear independently opening window will be on the market. Thanks, sac

1 Like

Thanks two friends have Highlanders but they still are too high for me and my purposes. Nice cars tho.
Yes, altho i fill up the volume in my car often, partucularly when it’s packed with two dogs and the stuff needed to spend a couple of weeks at a beach cottage, i think i could manage with a slightly smaller station wagon from behind the front seats to the back gate. I have never had to try since owning my '92 Buick Roadmaster…but know one as tiny as the BMW sports wagon would not be satisfactory. Another thing limiting carrying space in the BMW sports wagon is when the back seat is folded down, it rests about a foot or more from the back of the front seats…my Buick Roadmaster’s back seat folds down and almost touches the back of the front seats…this provides much more room for loading things behind the front seats. As you can tell, i love my '92 Buick estate wagon for many reasons . Was just checking on CarTalk to see if anyone knew if or when another wagon with an independently opening rear window and more space behind the front seat than offered by the BMW wagon might become available, particularly while i am still able to drive and go and do. Thanks…BTW, does anyone know if today’s car manufacturers even think to look on CarTalk for ideas before planning their upcoming fleets of cars?

I seriously doubt it . They have many ways for product planning and an anonymous forum would not be a good source.

That is kind of silly…who beter than expeeienced consumers know better. Surely the manufacturers can tell the difference between consumers/buyers wbo know what they are talking about and tbose who are justing running their mouths.
BTW for three years now i have watched each VOLVO wagon that comes out…rely do like the wagon but, again, my deal breaker is fact VOLVO still needs to add on its wagons an independently opening rear winow.

Your ‘low wagon plus rear opening window plus huge storage capacity’ pretty much is a deal breaker. You should be able to keep your current Buick running for many years, given enough $$. You could replace the engine, the transmission, whatever.

But is there rust?

1 Like

I hear your pain. I have to use a step stool to clean the windshield on my Acura and need a bigger one to wash the roof.

Texases…thank you for the encouraging words and thoughts…plus they track with mine just as they’ve done over last few years when i’ve looked around yet haven’t seen anything i like as well. I continue looking tho always with thought the day may arrive when my Buick wagon really cannot be repaired. Casey Buick always has serviced it and has done an excellent job but finding replacement parts is getting more and more difficult. It needed some corrections a fee months back that were going to be very expersive so Casey held off until once again i visiteddiffeeent deakerships…ended up going with the repairs. Had Buick or any car manufacturer ever checked with long time wagon owners over the last 25 years i’ve owned Big Blue to ask what features we would want in our next wagon, and followed through with some, then peehaps i would have purchased a new wagon with car’s today new safety updates every 2 or 3 years…but i have never wanted to purchase a car just for a newer one when they did not have something out there that did not turn me off for some reason…in my case not having a wagon with the independently rear window. May sound ridiculous to most but so far it’s been fine for now.

1 Like

I see that every week when i bike and kayak with friends. Most are still up on ladders getting their boats tied down…and they all had to have help unliading and loading them from their high cars and trucks. Thankfully Big Blue is low enough to permit me to slide my kayak on and off from the rear. I alwats have mine loaded and tied down while others still are moving ladders Arou d their vehicles. I love the independence my statiin wagon affords…thanks. BTW my friend will only purchase Acuras for himself and his family members…them love them…but none are really active outdoor folks.